Monday, April 12, 2021

The Political Revolution of 2018 and 2020

The socialist Senator Bernard Sanders, as most of my readers probably know, called for a “political revolution.” By this he meant an uprising of young people, leftist intellectuals, and genuinely working-class people who would, by the vote, beat back the rising tide of fascism. He also hoped he could bring along the petite bourgeoisie, the upper middle class whose wealth has been so thoroughly looted by the Republican Party. And, as most of my readers probably also know, he didn’t get one. Sanders was not popular enough with enough people, young people did not turn out, the US working class, after decades of attacks on organized labor, could not turn out enough votes, and the upper middle class, covertly white supremacist, threw in its lot with the truly wealthy despite their depredations, proving that yet again that identity trumps class consciousness.

But the USA did have a political revolution after all. In response to the election of Donald Trump, a coalition of women, young people, and Blacks brought the Democratic Party into control of the House in 2018, and then the Senate and the Presidency in 2020. This was a stunning defeat for the Republican Party. It was also a defeat for the faction of the far left which rejects electoral activism.

So the counter-revolution began in the states and the courts, where the Republican Party made dozens of specious challenges to the vote. The vote was honestly counted, and even Trump-appointed judges were unwilling to overturn honestly counted votes. That strategy having failed, the Republican Party turned to outright insurrection on January 6, 2021, attempting to prevent the counting of Electoral College votes. This nearly succeeded; it came near to killing all the Senators and Representatives and all the members of the Presidential line of succession who were not loyal to Donald Trump. All that stopped the insurrection was the heroic efforts of the Capitol Police and a callout of the DC National Guard over the objections of President Trump, who sent the insurrectionists to attack Congress. Characteristically cowardly, he promised to lead them and then did not, retreating instead to watch the insurrection he incited on television.

In the aftermath of the insurrection, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi pressed to complete the counting of the Electoral College votes, which was done at 4am the following day. Joseph R. Biden, Jr. was declared President, and sworn in on January 20th, 2021.

And then the counterrevolution

Oh, you didn’t think the fascists would give up so easily, did you? Trump wants his revenge. He is all about revenge. The white supremacists want their supremacy and are willing to pursue it at the cost of everything worthwhile about the United States. The theocrats want to declare the USA a Christian nation (and then, presumably, fight among themselves over which version of Christianity.) The very rich want to be richer still.

So…

First, despite all evidence, Trump claims that he didn’t really lose. Maybe he believes it, who knows? (With someone as dishonest as Trump there is always the question of “Does he even know what truth is?”) The V√∂lkischer Beobachter, er, Fox News supports this. The various other major US media have not made a serious effort to refute this lie. The New York Times owners and senior editorial staff seems to have quietly supported Trump all along – it is likely he could not have lasted as a real estate developer and won the Presidency without their support. Shortly after the 2020 election half of Republicans believed that Trump rightfully won and in recent polling the number is up to 60%. The belief, it appears, is persistent and strongly held.

Second, there is an attack on the vote.


“As of March 24, legislators have introduced 361 bills with restrictive provisions in 47 states. […] Five restrictive bills have already been signed into law. In addition, at least 55 restrictive bills in 24 states are moving through legislatures: 29 have passed at least one chamber, while another 26 have had some sort of committee action.” – Brennan Center, Voting Laws Roundup: March 2021.

The 2020 election, despite all calumnies, was honestly won and a stunning victory for the Democratic Party. Now the Democratic Party must work to protect the democratic republic of the United States, or that republic will be lost in four years. If the current tide of voter-suppression legislation is not stemmed, people will be kept from voting. If they vote the wrong way, the state legislatures, themselves the result of Republican gerrymanders, will simply override the popular vote, as has just been legislated in Georgia.

I want to know who the leaders of counter-revolutionary movement are. It is too organized and widespread to be accidental or spontaneous. I know a few names: the Koch Brothers, of course. Leonard A. Leo. But who else, and how is this unelected party organized? How are its leaders chosen? There is a group writing policies and checks. Who are they?

Meantime, the Senate is in its usual deadlock. In an impressive show of unity, the Senate Democrats managed to pass American Rescue Plan Act, evading the filibuster through the arcane reconciliation process, but the reconciliation process can only pass bills that may plausibly be regarded as budget-related. It would be easy for the Senate Democrats to abolish the filibuster, itself an anti-democratic thing and long a defense of scoundrels and racists, yet for some reason that no-one understands, two Democratic Senators are publicly opposed to this. The Senate Democratic majority is razor-thin and those two Senators can stop changes in the filibuster. If this Congress does not see a way to pass the For The People Act, or some similar voting rights reform bill, the 2022 and 2024 elections will be held under the new voter-suppression laws, and the Democratic Party may lose its slender majority of the Senate, and perhaps even the House, and the counter-revolution will win.

Viva La Revolución!

Strategically, it seems to me, progressives must work to defend the revolution. I cannot judge the internal politics of the Senate; I don’t know what, if anything, it will take to get Senators Sinema and Manchin to support the For The People Act, or a reintroduced John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. But we must support those laws and hope the Senate Democratic leadership can see a way to pass them. Contact your Senators.

Support the prosecutions of Republicans. The Republican Party is amazingly corrupt. Again, contact your Senators and Representatives. If you are personally in a position to participate in this work, I hope you do so.

Donate, if you can

We also must work to hold the House and expand the Democratic Senate majority in 2022. Historically, the majority party usually loses seats in the House in off year elections. This is a strange year, and it may not happen, but that is not something to count on. So, if you have financial support to offer, donate to Keep the House Blue in '22 and Keep the Senate Blue in '22.

Marc Elias’s Democracy Docket is working to keep elections honest. They could also use some support, if you have it to offer. Other groups that pursue broader or longer-range goals are Sam Wang’s Princeton Electoral Consortium, working against gerrymandering and NYU’s Brennan Center for Justice.

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Richard M. Stallman and the Failure of the Free Software Foundation

Over at my sister blog Shinycroak, this, on the leadership of the important and not well understood free software movement.

E-mail Surrender - if you didn't get a reply from me, please resend

Because every bleeping liberal Democratic candidate knows that I will sometimes donate money to liberal Democrats, they have been relentlessly spamming my political email account for over a year. I have just deleted over 1500 begging emails of various sorts. If you have sent me an e-mail I haven't answered, please resend it; it may have gotten lost in the flood.

New policy: if you start spamming me, no matter how fine your cause, I will unsubscribe from your mailing list.

Friday, February 26, 2021

How did we fall so far?

In answer to Jim Wright’s (Stonekettle Station) cri de coeur on Twitter:


You know, we could be beyond this thing by June. We could. It could be over. Life could return to normal – whatever the hell THAT is nowadays, anyway, but we're not going to be, it's not going to be over, not for a long, long time. Maybe never. Because these ignorant, backward, foolish, selfish, brainless, stupid, fearful, toothless redneck fucks would rather believe insane baseless conspiracy theories from TV pundits and hysterical internet “experts” instead of actual science and actual doctors. That's why.

[…]

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Democide in Texas


“Democide is any actions by government that cause death by virtue of an intentionally or knowingly reckless and depraved disregard for life” – R J Rummel

 

“The Shadow that bred them can only mock, it cannot make; not real new things of its own.” – JRR Tolkien


Despite all Republican and libertarian ideals of freedom, despite all the talk of strength, literal millions in Texas are without power and heat in the bitterest winter in years. There have so far been 13 deaths reported as a result; likely there are more and will be more in the days to come.

How did this happen? Texas is a rich state, an energy producer. It should have no problem maintaining power to its citizens through a cold snap. While global climate change may have contributed to this bitter winter in Texas, it has happened before climate change was so advanced, in 1979 and 2011. Hard winters hit Texas every so often, perhaps every decade or so.

Saturday, February 13, 2021

Reflections on the Technology Industry and Its Influence on Society

(In response to https://www.balloon-juice.com/2021/02/13/garbage-in-garbage-out-2/.)

I am an old bird, and I remember when tech was liberatory. We were proud, once, that women were accepted in senior positions in computing. Once, hippies became software engineers, and brought a new openness to technology. Virtual reality. The web itself. (The turmeric laser!) And then, and then…

What happened?

There is a history to be written. Some of the old spirit of liberation survives still: it is in things like showing police racism and brutality for all to see. In this blog. In things like antifa outing white supremacists. And just the plain fun of social media, before it was commercialized and dominated by addiction algorithms. That still survives in the quieter corners of the internet, but it is drowned out by the commercial internet.

But…

Just last night, literally, I responded to a remark on Twitter, “This is why I urge people NOT to think about Bitcoin in political terms. Do NOT view it as an evil libertarian plot to bring down government.” My reply: “Bitcoin is, exactly, a libertarian plot to destroy central banking and taxation. Read the Cyphernomicon. I used to know Tim May, the author of the Cyphernomicon. He died alone in his home in California. No-one noticed he had died for days.” May…May probably had as little empathy as any person I have ever known. He wasn’t violent. His manners were perfectly good (as long as your skin was light and you were male and not disabled.) But…but…he wasn’t capable of or interested in empathy. He was a quiet anti-Semite when I knew him. I have read that he later became a loud one.

To the article you cite. I wouldn’t say that Slate Star Codex was central to anything but Silicon Valley libertarian cranks. Citing David Friedman as a source? I know him, too. He is Milton Friedman’s son, and believes his father’s ideology implicitly. Scott Aaronson? He is famous for blaming feminism for his difficulties in his sex life. (One cannot make these things up. Truly, one cannot make these things up.)

We talk about regulation. I wish I knew what that would entail. I do not see how the current Roberts Court, which shows every sign of being the worst since Taney, is likely to allow effective regulation that would address the old imbalances of power that technology plus powerful sociopaths have brought to the world.

And there are worse possibilities. Consider that China has an intensely regulated internet, all aimed at enforcing conformity and the power of the state.

I…don’t know how to end this. We can talk about this until our mouths go numb. But where is the program that will lead us forward?

Friday, February 12, 2021

Treason!

I think we have to regard the January 6 attack as the first battle of a civil war. This is past sedition, this is actual treason. Trump and his associates organized a group of people to assault the Congress to prevent the certification of an election. That was levying war against the United States.

Whatever Democratic elected women, women of color, and people of color did or didn’t do, it wasn’t treason. It wasn’t even sedition.

I am not in Congress. I am not an elected official. I have no need to be politic in my language. What Trump and his associates did on and leading up to January 6, 2021 was treason and I will say that. I hope other people will join me.